EAA Government Advocacy
EAA continues to work hard on these issues and others of importance to EAA members and other aviators. There is strength in numbers, not only in EAA member participation but also in joining with other aviation groups and important allies such as the general aviation caucuses in the House and Senate.
- Tower-Go-Round Continues
- EAA Slams FCC on 121.5 ELT Rulemaking
- FAA Announces Changes in Special Issuance Medical Certification
- The Final Word: 'Exceeds Recommended Action'
Congress worked with uncommon speed in late April to approve funding for air traffic control operations through the remainder of the FAA's fiscal year, in great part due to delays inflicted on the airline-flying public. Outgoing Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood stated the funding would also apply to contract towers that are scheduled to close June 15, including the tower at Oshkosh's Wittman Regional Airport.
While the FAA's ability to transfer funds from other programs to cover air traffic operations is a good thing for the flying public, there are several unknown results that concern the EAA advocacy staff:
- The funding was only confirmed through September 30, the end of the FAA's fiscal year. This means without an overall agreement on the budget sequester, the same dilemma could face ATC this fall;
- Much of the funding is proposed to come from the Airport Improvement Program (AIP) budget, which could have negative consequences for projects at large and small airports throughout the nation; and
- Other important FAA safety and research programs could be hindered by the focus on air traffic operations.
There are also continuing congressional actions regarding control tower funding and closures. EAA will continue to press for the FAA to have the authority to use its resources in the wisest manner in regard to safety, effectiveness, and benefits to aviation. As the ATC situation demonstrated, cuts without regard to those factors create an unpleasant scenario where no segment of aviation wins.
In strongly worded comments submitted in April, EAA criticized the FCC for its latest attempt to curtail future use of 121.5 MHz ELTs, frankly telling the commission that it is infringing on aviation safety policy that rightly belongs to the FAA.
EAA further commented that the FAA has already analyzed the proposal extensively and found that it was unjustified in terms of both safety and cost. Further, curtailing use of 121.5 ELTs through a mandated change to 406 MHz would do nothing to prevent aviation accidents. Such a lack of safety benefits makes the proposal even less practical, as the change would cost general aviation aircraft owners hundreds of millions of dollars.
The FAA has already stopped certification of new 121.5 MHz ELT units, meaning the GA fleet will eventually move to new technology, whether that is 406 MHz or within the proposed NextGen system such as ADS-B.
Other aviation groups, including AOPA and NBAA, also heavily criticized the FCC for the proposal.
The federal air surgeon recently announced significant changes to the medical certification process.
Under a new policy termed "Certificates an AME Can Issue" (CACI) applicants with arthritis, asthma, glaucoma, chronic hepatitis C, hypertension, hypothyroidism, migraine and chronic headache, pre-diabetes, and renal cancer can receive their medical certificates directly from their AME provided they meet the certification criteria. Further conditions are expected to be added to this list in the coming months.
The AME will require certain documentation, but it does not have to be forwarded to the FAA as in the case of a special issuance. The resulting medical certificate is good for the normal duration, depending on the age of the applicant and/or the class of medical.
In addition to CACI, the FAA also revised its standards on some cardiac special issuances. Of particular note, these include a reduction in the wait for follow-up testing after stent implantation from six to three months and a reduced need for nuclear stress testing in many cases. These add up to a simpler, and in many cases cheaper, path to certification for pilots living with many common cardiac conditions.
Members of the EAA Aeromedical Advisory Council were heavily involved in promoting these changes. "We are incredibly fortunate to have the Aeromedical Advisory Council at EAA," said Sean Elliott, EAA vice president of advocacy and safety. "These six AMEs are among the most experienced and most respected doctors in the aeromedical business, and this announcement represents the culmination of several years of hard work they have done on behalf of our membership on these issues."
Aeromedical Advisory Council member and Senior AME Greg Pinnell recently hosted a webinar on a wide range of aeromedical issues, including the new CACI and cardiac policies.
The Final Word - Sean Elliott, EAA Vice President of Advocacy and Safety
'Exceeds Recommended Action'
As many of you are aware, the NTSB performed a safety study of E-AB aircraft last year. As a result of that study, safety recommendations were issued to both the FAA and EAA. This was a new precedent as previously the NTSB had only issued safety recommendations to other government agencies.
EAA responded to the FAA and the NTSB with a position on each safety recommendation, current programs that address the issues, and pending actions the organization will take to meet the intent of the safety recommendation. Our goal is to enhance safety without the necessity of any new regulation or policy. EAA has always accomplished more with its membership through education and culture rather than the FAA coming up with new regulations. Our legacy is filled with examples of how EAA leads by action with its members playing a key part!
As part of the NTSB process, the board reviews and tracks follow-up to all safety recommendations. There are 14 classifications that the NTSB can assign to progress on a given recommendation. Out of the four recommendations (A-12-40, A-12-41, A-12-42, A-12-43) that were given to EAA, we received three "Open-Acceptable Response" classifications and one "Closed-Exceeds Recommended Action" for A-12-42, which is about the letter of deviation authority (LODA) process and transition training for both Phase 1 and second owners.
The classification "Closed-Exceeds Recommended Action" is very rare from the NTSB! It is the highest response the NTSB can give in following up to a safety recommendation, and is only given to an agency or organization that proactively asserts even better-than-recommended solutions to address a safety recommendation. NTSB Chairman Hersman discussed these ratings recently in her blog and praised EAA for its actions toward aviation safety.
We are pleased with this recognition and look forward to taking further steps in our never-ending quest to reduce accidents in aviation.
EAA's Government Relations department works to preserve the freedom of flight and reduce the regulatory barriers affecting affordability and access to EAA members’ participation in aviation. Protecting the freedom to fly is the foundation on which all of the organization’s advocacy initiatives are built. EAA fights to preserve this freedom by providing clear solutions and practical alternatives backed by hard work and dedication. EAA’s history of success is a testament to that philosophy.